Acceptance definition law involves assenting to the terms made in an offer. It is vital to judge acceptance objectively and make sure that it is stated or expressly implied in the conduct of the person offering it. For a contract to be binding, the acceptance of the offer must be relayed in a way that is authorized, requested, or reasonably expected by the person offering.

What is Acceptance?

Acceptance is an act or implication that provides an acceptance of an offer which then forms a binding contract. In legal terms, when someone accepts an offering they are agreeing to comply with the terms made in the offer. Acceptance can be used in a number of situations such as:

  • In insurance law, when an insurer agrees to the person's application for insurance and in turn will issue them a policy to cover certain risks or perils.
  • If a person offers a gift to someone else who, in turn, keeps the gift. By keeping the gift, they are indicating their acceptance.
  • When a bank pays for a check that was written to a customer who has a checking account with the bank.
  • In business, when a buyer agrees to purchase a product from a seller even if the product or goods was not what was originally agreed upon. If they fail to reject the goods or do something to negate the seller's ownership of them, they have provided acceptance.

Acceptance occurs when something is received from another with the intention of keeping it and shows that the offer was made in a previous agreement. You can choose to accept something either verbally, or in writing, depending on what is detailed in the contract. If it is a written offer, it can only officially be accepted in writing.

Once you have accepted goods by receiving them, you are agreeing to the sale. When acceptance is determined it often involves a factual agreement that was entered into. If you accept a bill exchange, you are acknowledging your acceptance to the agreement with the person that had the bill drawn.

Types of Acceptance

There are different types of acceptance depending on how the acceptance occurs:

  • Absolute acceptance - is accepting the bill as it is written
  • Conditional acceptance - is paying on the condition of the shipment or delivery of the goods
  • General - this is assent without qualification to the order of the drawer
  • Qualified acceptance - this is an acceptance where express terms will vary in the effect of the bill being drawn

In the law of sale, acceptance of goods does not occur until the buyer has had a limited right to examine the goods. This allows the buyer time to make sure that the goods are in line with the agreement of the contract. This ensures that once the goods have been expected there can be no rejection later.

The Sale of Goods Act

The Sale of Goods Act lays out the variety of ways which acceptance can be deemed to have taken place. A buyer is considered to have accepted goods:

  • When they relay to the seller that they have been accepted once there has been a reasonable opportunity to have examined the goods
  • When goods have been delivered and there is no action taken that is inconsistent with ownership
  • When a reasonable time has passed and the buyer retains the goods without giving the impression to the seller that the goods are being rejected

When properly accepting, the manner should be consistent with what was specified in the offer. If there has been no manner of acceptance designated in the offer, then the manner of acceptance shall be a manner that is considered reasonable under the circumstances.

An acceptance can only be deemed valid if the one offering knows that there is an offer and they make known their intention to accept. The acceptance must be expressed as an unconditional agreement in terms of the offer. There are many manners in which an agreement can be accepted including:

  • Oral
  • Written
  • By phone
  • In person
  • By handshake
  • By ceremony
  • By taking possession of the item at a register

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